Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, is one of the recipients of this week’s letters. Photo via the Committee on Appropriations.
Last month we asked smart growth advocates to speak out in support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Hundreds of supporters sent letters to their members of Congress, and Congress listened.
If you were one of the many people who sent letters to your members of Congress, thank you. Your voice was heard and Congress is taking action. In total, 29 members of Congress signed letters championing better development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fiscal year 2014’s budget.
Nineteen Senators signed a letter supporting HUD’s Integrated Planning and Investment grants. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who coauthored the letter, explained the multiple benefits of the program:
These grants help communities streamline regulatory barriers and make strategic investments with limited taxpayer dollars. They also make federal investments go even further by helping local leaders leverage private sector investment, save money in municipal budgets, and help families with housing and transportation costs – all while creating jobs.
Those 19 Senators we joined by 7 members of the House of Representatives who signed a similar letter supporting HUD’s Integrated Planning and Investment grants, circulated by Representatives Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
In addition, 16 Senators signed a separate letter supporting EPA’s Smart Growth Program. Author Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) addresses the value the program provides to communities:
The EPA smart growth programs works with local, state, and regional decision-makers by providing technical expertise and resources to help communities grow their economies, protect the environment and public health, and improve their existing infrastructure. As more communities face increasing development challenges, the EPA’s smart growth program provides a valuable service that is voluntary and market-driven to strengthen and revitalize towns, cities and localities.
Members in both chambers will continue to discuss the budget in the coming days, and will begin to draft appropriations legislation over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to learn how this issue progresses, and thank you again for speaking out for these important programs.